Friday, May 25, 2012

Christ: A sacrifice to sin. Romans

I have been reading Romans lately to gain perspective on a lot of things, but more specifically perspective on homosexuality. But an interesting thing has been emerging for me. Lately I have been really trying to understand Christ more. I get that he died for our sins, and through him we are saved. But Paul really outlines some interesting things about Christ in his letter to the Romans. Like Romans 3:21-31

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God(AB) has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.(AC) 22 This righteousness(AD) is given through faith(AE) in[h]Jesus Christ(AF) to all who believe.(AG) There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,(AH) 23 for all have sinned(AI) and fall short of the glory of God,24 and all are justified(AJ) freely by his grace(AK)through the redemption(AL) that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[i](AM) through the shedding of his blood(AN)—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished(AO) 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
27 Where, then, is boasting?(AP) It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.(AQ) 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too,(AR) 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.(AS)31 

Emphasis added)

Verse 26 there really gets me. It was here that something started stirring in me about Christ. Christ was God's sacrifice of atonement to Sin. Wow. Paul goes on in Romans to explain how, just like all of man fell to sin through one man (Adam), all of man is released from sin by God through one man (Christ). All of sin is washed away because God sacrificed His only son, Christ. Christ lived a sin- free life, which no man could do. This is why it was necessary for God to make himself into a man in Christ, for to be sinless you must be God, but to atone for the sins of humanity, you must be human. In this way, God himself atoned for our sins, through Christ Jesus, for all who believe. And all who believe are called to be a part of another Kingdom, not this world, bound by desires of the flesh (which are sinful and lead to death), but to be a part of Gods Kingdom, bound by desires of the spirit (which are righteous and lead to eternal life). 


What does this mean?  
It first means that there is a battle within us- a battle of desires of the flesh and desires of the spirit. The desires of one will always leave us unsatisfied, no matter how hard we try to fulfill them - these are the desires of the flesh. Like greed, pride, gain, self-indulgence - things that serve individuals, but are shallow and fleeting. And then there are the desires of the spirit - God's spirit, the Holy Spirit. These desires serve others, find joy in loving and caring for others, in community and in putting others first before the individual. It is this nature that is at the heart of all of us - whether we choose to live it out or not. It is the denial of this nature that leaves us hungry and yearning for more. Often times we turn to the desires of the flesh, but really it is the spirit we need to turn to. Denying the spirit and turning to flesh is the nature of sin.

However, I think it means that we need not worry about our sinful nature, that it has been overcome for us, and that if we choose to leave it behind and die to it and follow Christ, we can be a part of something greater, free from worldly desires - materialism, individualism, self-sufficiency, greed, pride, sexual immorality and many more. Instead, we can be relieved of these burdens and participate in something far greater than our individual needs and desires. We can be a participant in the glory of God, and live out a life that fills our spirit with joy and gladness - service to others, love, kindness, genteelness, community and so much more. Indeed, it is in the desires of the flesh we turn to fill a never ending hunger which will starve our spirit and kill our faith, but to christ we turn to quench our eternal thirst and find true life.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful interpretation. I love your insight.